Several Catholic priests and theologians formally accused Pope Francis of heresy in an official correction not issued against a pope since the 14th century.
The group of conservative Catholic leaders issued a filial correction in a 25-page letter, signed by 62 Catholic priests, theologians, and academics, accusing Francis of propagating seven heretical positions on marriage, divorce, and receiving the Eucharist, according to the Associated Press. Francis allegedly spread these heresies in Amoris Laetitia, his teaching on marriage and divorce, and other “acts, words and omissions.”
The unclear nature of Francis’s teaching has caused massive division within the Catholic church, leading it to the brink of schism over whether or not those who have been divorced may receive the Eucharist.
The filial correction comes in the wake of Cardinal Raymond Burke’s call for such a correction to be employed against Francis after his failure to respond to a formal church inquiry known as a “dubbia.” The dubbia, signed by four cardinals, consisted of five doubts or questions requesting clarification on Francis’s teachings.
No cardinals, however, signed the newest letter and official correction, and the highest ranking signatory, Bishop Bernard Fellay, leads the Society of St. Pius X, a priestly fraternity that has no official authority or canonical recognition in the church. The organizers of the signatories and effort to issue the correction, many of which support Fellay’s conservative traditions like the Latin mass, said that the lack of official involvement from a cardinal did not negate the message the initiative communicates to Francis and the rest of the church.
“There is a role for theologians and philosophers to explain to people the church’s teaching, to correct misunderstandings,” Joseph Shaw, a spokesman for the initiative and senior research fellow in moral philosophy at Oxford University, told the AP.
The major controversy brewing over Amoris Laetitia is Francis’s pronouncement that remarried Catholics may receive the Eucharist. Francis was intentionally vague on the matter of whether such couples had to get their first marriages annulled before receiving the elements, as has been tradition, or whether that was no longer necessary. Francis intimated, according to the AP, that bishops and priests could make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, from the position that the Eucharist was meant to be a source of spiritual renewal for those who are broken, rather than the privilege of those who are allegedly pure.
Francis has yet to respond to the correction and the accusation of heresy.